It’s closing in on two years now since the last-ever NASA Space Shuttle flight. The Space Shuttle was an icon of our era, capturing the imagination and providing a valuable service in building man’s presence in orbit around the Earth.
Though spectacular – it’s a regret I never got to see, hear and feel a Shuttle launch – they were expensive. Now it’s gone, the idea is that commercial organisations worldwide will bring a new era of affordable spaceflight for organisations – such as universities or research institutions – wanting to put satellites into orbit.
One new recent announcement came from a Swiss company, S3, which is aspiring to launch satellites into space by using a novel launch system. Riding piggyback on a A300 will be a space shuttle. The A300 will take off and climb to altitude from where the unmanned aircraft – called SOAR – will launch and climb into the upper atmosphere. From there the shuttle will release its cargo of satellites into orbit.
The intention is to make putting satellites into space quicker and cheaper.
I’m currently writing about S3 for AIR International magazine and you’ll be able to read about it in a future issue.
In the meantime, here’s a video showing an impression of S3’s concept in action: